Not Enough Parents Taking Advantage of Help from HISD

Houston School District officials say they're doing their best to let parents of children in failing schools know they have options, including free tutoring and free transportation to better schools. But as Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports, hardly any parents are taking advantage of them.

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There are about 1,900 students in 14 HISD schools that haven't met federal standards, and most qualify for free tutoring, or free bus rides to a school that does meet the standards. To date however, only a little over 600 students have signed up for either option. HISD spokesman Terry Abbott says it's not because parents don't know about them.

"We've done an enormous amount of outreach through the media first of all. Media's done a number of stories about the availability of this free tutoring. We have sent letters to every home. Last week we called thirteen thousand homes in Houston, urging parents to sign their children up for free tutoring. And still we don't have very many who've done that."

It's the same story nationwide. In all 50 states, only about 430,000 students have signed up for tutoring and only a tiny percentage have transferred. Abbott says he understands parents' reluctance to transfer out of their neighborhood school, but he doesn't understand why they're not signing up for free tutoring.

"If someone called my home, or sent me a letter as we have done, and said we want to give your son free tutoring, I would jump at it in a minute and it's hard to understand why more folks don't sign up for that. Parents have received those letters, they've received the telephone calls, but they still haven't done it."

Abbott says tomorrow, Friday, is the deadline for students in the 14 failing schools to transfer to a passing school, but there's no deadline on signing up for tutoring. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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